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LWTCs TRiO Student Support Services Presents:

Learning Styles: Why do They Matter?


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Learning Styles Table of Contents


Why are Learning Styles Important? 1 FAQs about the VARK 2

Visual Study Strategies

Aural Study Strategies

Read/Write Study Strategies

Kinesthetic Study Strategies

Multimodal Study Strategies

The enclosed materials were compiled through a grant from the US Department of Education. However, the contents have not been reviewed by the Department and no endorsement should be inferred. The Lake Washington Technical College Student Support Services TRIO Projects are 100% federally funded annually at $458,270.00.

Why are Learning Styles Important?


Have you ever wondered why you have difficulty learning from a particular instructor, whereas another seems to explain things in just the right way? Did you ever question why the course that your friend said was so easy turned into a struggle for you? Do you notice that you and your roommate have different opinions on whether or not to have the radio on while you're studying? The reason behind some of these discrepancies may be differences in learning styles!

What is a "learning style"?


To put it simply, your learning style (or learning preference) is the way you tend to learn best. It involves your preferred method of taking in, organizing, and making sense of information. Learning styles do not tell us about a person's abilities or intelligence, but they can help us understand why some tasks seem easier for us than others. There are several benefits of thinking about and trying to understand your learning preferences:

people learn most effectively when the strategies used are closely matched with their preferred learning style

sometimes we can improve our learning by knowing what our strengths are and then doing more of what we're good at

often we can improve our learning by knowing what our weakness are and trying to enhance our skills in these areas

different situations and learning environments require different learning strategies, so it's best to have a large repertoire from which to draw

Adapted from The University of Ontarios Student Development Centre http://www.sdc.uwo.ca/learning/index.html?styles

COMPLETE THE VARK QUESTIONNAIRE BY GOING TO www.vark-learn.com


Is VARK a learning style? Technically No! A learning style has 18+ dimensions (preferences for temperature, light, food intake, biorhythms, working with others, deep and surface approaches). VARK is about one preference -our preference for taking in and putting out information in a learning context. Although it is a part of learning style we consider it an important part because people can do something about it. Some other dimensions are not open to self-modification.

What is VARK? VARK is a questionnaire that provides users with a profile of their learning preferences. These preferences are about the ways that they want to take-in and give-out information.

Why only 13 questions? Experience suggests that if there are too many questions (25+) some respondents tend to take the questionnaire less seriously and some may become bored with it or provide spurious answers because of questionnaire fatigue. Are my modality preferences fixed and unchanging? We won't know until somebody does some longitudinal research on a group but you will not switch from a Read/write preference to a Visual preference overnight! Typically, your scores on a particular mode may rise or fall by 1 or 2 as you do the questionnaire again. There is, however, an increase in single preferences with age. The database for 2005 shows that for those under 18 years of age there were 40.5% with a single preference and 59.5% with some form of multimodality. For those aged 55+ there were 47% with a single preference and 53% who were multimodal. We also know that, with age, the proportion with an R single preference increases as the proportion with a K single preference decreases. V and A stay about the same. For under 18-year-olds those with single preference K are 23.5% of the total and those with single preference R make up 9.6%. For those aged 55+ the proportions are 15.2% and 25.6%! How does the category "Read/writers", who make up 10% of young people, increase to 25% when they are over 55 years of age? Will life experience change my preferences? Probably! Some students report that when they were younger their VARK profile would have been different and that it is their exposure to different life experiences (travel, recreation, work, and relationships) that would have made that change. VARK is a relatively "young" inventory and sufficient longitudinal studies have not been done to be sure about that. Is it good to be multimodal? Yes and No. Yes! Multimodal learners and teachers can be more flexible about how they take in and give out information than those with a profile that emphasizes a single preference. They tend to be able to match their preferences with whatever mode(s) are being used. That is the "Yes" answer. But because multimodal learners need to have at least two or three modes involved in learning before they are satisfied that is a disadvantage. For example, someone with an AR profile would want to read about it and talk about it with others before they would "trust" the incoming information. A single preference learner would "get it" from just one mode. 2

Visual Study Strategies (V)

Copyright Version 7.0 (2006) held by Neil D. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand and Charles C. Bonwell, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado 80819 U.S.A.

Aural Study Strategies (A)


If you have a strong preference for learning by Aural methods (A = hearing) you should use some or all of the following: INTAKE To take in the information:

Attend classes Attend discussions and tutorials Discuss topics with others Discuss topics with your teachers Explain new ideas to other people Use a tape recorder Remember the interesting examples, stories, jokes, etc. Describe the overheads, pictures and other visuals to somebody Leave spaces in your notes for later recall and 'filling in the blanks

SWOT - Study without tears To make a learnable package:

Convert your notes into a learnable package by reducing them (3:1)


Your notes may be poor because you prefer to listen expand your notes by talking with others and collecting notes from the textbook Put your summarized notes onto tapes and listen to them Ask others to 'listen to your understanding of a topic Read your summarized notes aloud Explain your notes to another 'aural' person OUTPUT To perform well in any test, assignment or exam:

Imagine talking with the instructor Spend time in quiet places recalling the ideas Practice writing answers to old exam questions Say your answers aloud

Copyright Version 7.0 (2006) held by Neil D. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand and Charles C. Bonwell, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado 80819 U.S.A.

Read/Write Study Strategies (R & W)


If you have a strong preference for learning by Reading and Writing (R & W), learning you should use some or all of the following: INTAKE To take in the information: Lists Headings Dictionaries Glossaries Definitions Handouts and Study Guides Textbooks Notes Essays Manuals

SWOT - Study without tears To make a learnable package: Convert your notes into a learnable package by reducing them (3:1).

Write out the words again and again Read your notes again and again Rewrite the ideas and principles into other words Organize diagrams & graphs into statements (e.g. "The trend is...") Turn actions, diagrams, and charts into words or sentences Imagine your lists as multiple choice questions OUTPUT To perform well in any test, assignment or examination:

Write practice exam answers Practice with multiple choice questions Make lists Arrange your words into hierarchies and points

You like this page because the emphasis is on words and lists. You believe the meanings are within the words, so any talk is OK but this handout is better.

Copyright Version 7.0 (2006) held by Neil D. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand and Charles C. Bonwell, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado 80819 U.S.A.

Kinesthetic (K)
INTAKE To take in the information:

All your senses - sight, touch, taste, smell, hearing ... Laboratories Field trips Field tours Examples of principles Lecturers who give real-life examples Hands-on approaches and experiential learning Trial and error Exhibits, samples, photographs, etc. SWOT - Study without tears To make a learnable package:

Convert your notes into a learnable package by reducing them (3:1).


Your lecture notes may be poor because the topics were not 'concrete' or 'relevant' You will remember the "real" things that happened Put plenty of examples into your summary Use case studies and applications to help with principles and abstract concepts Talk about your notes with another "K" person. Use pictures and photographs that illustrate an idea Go back to the laboratory or refer to your lab manual Recall the experiments

OUTPUT To perform well in any test, assignment or examination:


Write practice exam answers Write practice answers, paragraphs...

Copyright Version 7.0 (2006) held by Neil D. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand and Charles C. Bonwell, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado 80819 U.S.A.

Multimodal Study Strategies


If you have multiple preferences you are in the majority as somewhere between fifty and seventy percent of any population seems to fit into that group. Multiple preferences are interesting and quite varied. For example you may have two strong preferences such as V & A or R & K, or you may have three strong preferences such as VAR or ARK. Some people have no particular strong preferences and their scores are almost even for all four modes. For example one student had scores of V=9, A=9, R=9, and K=9. She said that she adapted to the mode being used or requested. If the teacher or supervisor preferred a written mode she switched into that mode for her responses and for her learning. Having multiple preferences gives you choices of two or three or four modes to use for your interaction with others. Some people have admitted that if they want to be annoying they stay in a mode different from the person with whom they are working. For example they may ask for written evidence in an argument, knowing that the other person much prefers to refer only to oral information. Creating positive reactions means matching those multimodal preferences to others around you. Depending on your learning preferences, please refer to the study strategies that apply to you. If you have multiple preferences, you will need to read two or three or four lists of strategies. One interesting piece of information that people with multimodal preferences have said that it is necessary for them to use more than one strategy for learning and communicating. They feel may insecure with only one. Alternatively those with a single preference often "get it" by using the set of strategies that align with their single preference.
Copyright Version 7.0 (2006) held by Neil D. Fleming, Christchurch, New Zealand and Charles C. Bonwell, Green Mountain Falls, Colorado 80819 U.S.A.